Jefferson Bass

Carved in Bone

"The story is cleverly plotted and characters well-drawn."


A woman's charred body has been found inside a burned-out car perched atop a hill in Knoxville. Is it an accidental death, or murder followed by arson? Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton's quest for answers prompts an experiment straight from Dante's Inferno. In the dark of night, he puts bodies to the torch, researching how fire consumes flesh and bone. Little does he know that his research is about to collide with reality - with the force of a lit match meeting spilled gasoline. En route to trial, Brockton's nemesis, medical examiner Garland Hamilton, has escaped from custody. What follows is a deadly game of cat and mouse, played for the ultimate stakes - Brockton's own life. With help from his loyal graduate assistant, Miranda, and ace criminalist, Art Bohanan, Brockton eventually tracks Hamilton. When the police arrive, they find only a smoldering ruin. Sifting through the ashes, Brockton finds the incinerated remains of Hamilton... or does he? The answer - along with Brockton's ultimate test - comes in a searing moment of truth.

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This was the first book I had read by Jefferson Bass and, although I thoroughly enjoyed the multiple plots and twists included in this book, for some reason I was unable to identify strongly with the protagonist. This could have been because it was an older male character, which in itself is quite unusual. Or, it could simply have been that he was quite a self-absorbed person following the death of his wife two years previously. Either way, this certainly marred my enjoyment of the book for me a little. That said, the majority of the other characters were solid and there were certainly plenty of suspects for the murder(s). The story is cleverly plotted and characters well-drawn. However, this reader also found it a bit frustrating when the author, staying with authenticity of the speech patterns of those living in the area where the book is based, continually wrote in the colloquial form. Overall, however, I did enjoy this book.

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